RIP VPW

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VPW President Sande Snead presents the 2008 Distinguished Service Award to Pam Stallsmith and Cynthia Price.

BY SANDE SNEAD

This past Saturday was a historic day for Virginia Press Women (VPW), and for some, a very sad day as well for it marked the end of an era. When President Bonnie Atwood adjourned the spring 2014 conference with a bang of the organization’s 56-year-old gavel, it was VPW’s Swan song.

About VPW
Founded in Richmond in 1958 as an organization for newspaper editors and writers, VPW members amended the organization’s constitution a year later to extend membership to “any writer actively engaged in journalistic services for remuneration.”

Charter members included the late Norma Lugar, Agnes Cooke and Lib Wiley. In 1973, membership was opened to men who support the mission
of VPW. Venerable VCU Professor and the late George Crutchfield was its first male member.


A new name and brand

On April 5, VPW revised its bylaws again – this time to change the name of an organization many of our members have been associated with for decades. Virginia Press Women now is called, Virginia Professional Communicators.

While there are still members who are journalists, many long-time members, like me, who were writers and editors for newspapers and magazines, have now moved into public relations, marketing and even advertising careers.

We had a spirited debate on the name change. There was one dissenting vote and when the inscription on the 56-year-old Virginia Press Women gavel was read, there were tears.

Virginia Press Women

1958

This gavel was made from the wood of a

tree that stood within the bounds of

the original colony of Jamestown, Virginia

First permanent English settlement in America

 

Recognizing that changing the name is not a panacea for increasing our membership, the name change to Virginia Professional Communicators will be accompanied with a re-branding campaign called, RELAUNCH 2014.

Having met so many trailblazing and inspiring women who came before me through my association in Virginia Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women, I’m not sure exactly how I feel now that we have changed our iconic name. But one thing is clear, it will be awfully difficult to get more wood from a tree that stood within the boundary of the original Jamestown colony to make a new gavel.